Dawn of the Gods is very, very odd. Logic and reason seem to take a holiday during this one, beginning with Orac’s bizarre behaviour. He decides to investigate a nearby black hole, thereby endangering both the Liberator and its crew. Once they enter the black hole, Cally hears voices in her head as a figure from Auron mythology – the Thaarn – has plans for her.
It would have made more sense for Cally to be drawn to the black hole by the Thaarn’s entreaties (which would have meant that Orac’s suicidal curiosity could have been dispensed with). Possibly this wasn’t done since it would have seemed like too much of a retread of The Web.
But as it stands, getting the Liberator into the black hole feels very contrived, as does the fact that the Thaarn has such an urgent need for Cally. I’ll say one thing for him though, he thinks big. “I’ve been alone with my plans for so long. Cally. Plans to build a new universe, with no one to share them with, until now. The universe, Cally. And the great univeral force that controls the universe, is gravity. The orbit of the planets, the slow turn of the galaxies. I have built a machine that can generate gravity. When it’s complete, it will be powerful enough to move planets, and stars. He who controls gravity, controls everything. We will be rulers of the universe, Cally.”
Exactly what Cally can offer him that no-one else can is never made clear. Presumably it’s telepathy, but you’d assume that someone who’s planning to create a new universe would be able to obtain a telepath from somewhere.
Like The Web, Dawn of the Gods has a bizarre creature, but here it’s unwisely held back until close to the end of the story. Let’s be generous and say that when the Thaarn does pop up he’s something of a disappointment – it certainly torpedoes any lingering credibility that James Follett’s script had.
But even before the Thaarn was revealed in all its glory, things were wobbling. Avon and the others meet several of the Thaarn’s underlings, the Caliph (Sam Dastor) and Groff (Terry Scully). The Caliph seems to have wandered in from a Charles Dickens play, whilst Groff sports a natty eyeshade. It makes a change from the usual sci-fi cliche of silver suits, but the reason for this cosplay isn’t clear. If you’d have told me it was budget related I might have believed you!
Dawn of the Gods does have the air of a low-cost episode, especially since the first half takes place aboard the Liberator. There’s a few decent bits of character interaction though – it’s particularly nice to see Avon, Vila, Cally, Dayna and Orac enjoying a game of Space Monopoly. Yes, even Avon! And Orac gets very peeved when the others become distracted. It’s notable that the only one not playing is Tarrant (is he sulking by himself?) He’s certainly pretty insufferable, insulting Cally and generally rushing around trying to solve the crisis, but achieving very little.
So we’re currently in a bit of a dip, story-wise. I wonder if the next will be any better?